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Monday, January 28, 2008

'Spartans' knocks off 'Clover' and John Rambo for No. 1, Jan. 25-27

In a drag-out battle between a gigantic monster, comedic Spartans and the return of John Rambo, it was the barely clad warriors of Meet the Spartans who finished the weekend victorious, opening with an estimated $18.7 million. Launching in 2,605 theaters, the Fox spoof comedy averaged a top ten best $7,188 in its debut weekend.

The PG-13 debut was virtually on par with the studio's previous genre spoof comedies Epic Movie ($18.6m) and Date Movie ($19.1m). It was also close to Fox's Scary Movie 2 with $20.5 million, which marked the smallest debut in the Scary Movie franchise. Spoofing blockbuster films from the past year, the $18 million budgeted production should finish with a profitable $40-50 million domestically.

With the Academy Award nominations being announced this past week most of the Best Picture nominees experienced sales increases. The two biggest were No Country for Old Men with a 106% increase and Michael Clayton with a whopping 4,500% increase thanks to the expansion into over 1,000 theaters.

Sylvester Stallone dusted off the old bow and machete, re-awakening John Rambo from a nearly 20 year hiatus. The fourth film in the series, Rambo finished a strong second with $18.2 million, averaging an impressive $6,598 in 2,751 theaters. Co-produced by Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company, the ultra-gory actioner depended heavily on a large male turnout, and marks Stallone's biggest debut in a starring role since 1985's Rocky IV took in $19.9 million. The original Rambo film First Blood debuted with $6.6 million back in 1982. Its successor Rambo: First Blood Part II became the biggest film in the franchise, debuting with $20.1 million in 1985 on its way to $150.4 million total. It is still the highest grossing film of Stallone's career.

Katherine Heigl's romantic comedy 27 Dresses slipped just 41% in its sophomore frame, grossing an estimated $13.6 million. In ten days, the $30 million budgeted Fox release has grossed $45.3 million, and should finish with a very profitable $80 million domestically.

The biggest loser of the weekend was last week's champ Cloverfield, which fell a stunning 68% to an estimated $12.7 million in fourth. Budgeted at a modest $25 million, the popular monster pic has still managed a very impressive $64.3 million in ten days, and could also finish with $80 million domestically.

Diane Lane's thriller Untraceable debuted in fifth with $11.2 million, averaging a decent $4,730 in 2,368 theaters. Budgeted at $30 million, the Sony ScreenGems release most likely won't break even domestically.

Several films broke through major milestones this weekend, led by Academy Award nominated Juno surpassing $100 million, thanks in large part to its two nominations for Best Picture and Best Actress. Fox's Alvin and the Chipmunks and Disney's National Treasure: Book of Secrets both surpassed $200 million over the weekend.

Debuting out of the top ten was Paramount Vantage's How She Move, which took in just $4.1 million in twelfth place.

No Country for Old Men saw a 106% boost in ticket sales to $2.5 million, pushing its 12-week total to $52 million. Michael Clayton vaulted back into theaters with a theater increase of 1,069, bringing in $2 million this weekend. The George Clooney starrer (also up for two Oscars for Best Film and Best Actor) has grossed $41.4 million in 17 weeks.

Thanks to four newcomers and impressive Oscar-nominated holdovers, the box office was up an incredible 33% from last year's comparable frame, when Epic Movie took the top spot with $18.6 million. With the Superbowl coming next Sunday, look for a very light weekend to come.

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